Let me introduce you to Devan Coultrie. This is his Diwali and in Peace, Montana.
Diwali: Love, light and Peace
By Punam Farmah
Candles and clay lamps lay in a brown box that sat upon the kitchen table. A second box sat next to it; brand-spanking new and illustrated with twinkling fairy lights. Reaching into the first box, Devan gently put his hand to a stack of five clay lamps and let them rest in the centre of his left hand.
“Don’t you dare drop them!” said his mother as she passed behind him. Bags of groceries hung heavily from her hands. Devan saw a large, red and white bag of plain flour peeking out from the well-filled bags. His mother Avni was preparing the food for the Diwali Celebrations. The flour was required to make the pastry for samosas.
Samosas. Devan couldn’t remember the last time that he had dipped crunchy, flaky, cumin infused pastry into sweet but spicy tamarind chutney and savoured the taste. As the vague and fuzzy around the edges memory splutter in his memory, he heard his stomach growl and gurgle. Placing his palm to his gut, he rued having got up late and missing breakfast. With his leg still healing, he was effectively barred by his mother and Aditi from so much as lifting a finger and doing anything for himself. Both had been absent when he had woken up. Now, they were were occupied with other things rather than wanting to feed him.
Diwali was all about good food, good times and good energies. His parents were here in Peace, Aditi too; having them here, did rather make him feel like this home. Peace by name was becoming peace by nature.
“Will there be Jalebis, Mum?” he asked, using both hands to cradle the clamp lamps. Devan felt as though the lamps were china in his hands; the feeling rather mesmerised him but also rather made him feel cautious having been warned not to drop them. “Gulab Jamun too?” he queried, studying the pink hues of the terracotta that the lamps were made from.
“Right behind you,” replied Avni as her husband walked into the kitchen with a stack of white boxes labelled ‘Deepak’s Sweet Centre, Colorado’. “Your Massi knows a small sweet centre,” she said, placing her shopping bags upon the nearest worktop. “I called before we left to see her, placed an order for all of today’s sweets. Your father and I picked it all up on our way back here. Lovely people,” commented Avni, a smile dancing across her face. “Not much call for Jalebis and Gulab Jamun this side of the pond, or even in Colorado, actually; so they threw in an extra half a pound of each when I told them it was for Diwali. Told them that you’d spread the word around Peace.”
“I’ll try,” nodded Devan. He couldn’t help but laugh at his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. “Being the only Englishman in Peace is one thing. Being the only part Indian,” he shrugged and rolled his shoulders deeply. “I’ll see what I can do, Mum; not promising anything.”
Devan’s father, Richard, had followed his wife and deposited his load next to the shopping. He looked at his son, and then at the box on the top of the stack; he furtively opened the lid. “Want one?” asked Richard. A bright orange Jalebi glistening with sugar syrup was held like a freshly boiled egg between his thumb and fore finger. “I’ll split it with you.”
Devan’s eyes widened at the sight of the sweet. Gently placing the divas back into the box, he moved as quickly as he could towards his father. Snatching the spiral-shaped sweet, Devan snapped it in half and thrust it straight into his mouth.
“You never did share your sweets, son,” chortled Richard, hard and from the depths of his ever increasingly rotund gut.
“Notmajebis,” said Devan; the second half of the jalebi was crunched down upon quickly. Rapidly chewing away the sweetness, he licked the tips of his fingers to get each and every last drop bit of the sticky, sweet, sugary syrup. Satisfied that he had got every last bit, Devan focused back upon his mother.
Avni had found an apron and was tying it behind her back. “Leave all the food to me,” she said lifting flour and potatoes out of her grocery bags. “Aditi is working on the drinks, and making sure of the guest list. You, Devan, your Dad, you have one job; one job alone.” She jabbed a finger at the candle. “Get to it,” she said firmly, “And quickly.”
“You heard her,” Richard nodded and clamped a hand onto Devan’s shoulder. “The sweets are one thing. There are also lanterns to hang from the trees, more fairy lights and enough tea lights to make sure that Oakview is visible from space. I’ve left all those by the gate, I’ll meet you there. You’ll need this.” He pressed a black and chrome candle lighter into Devan’s hand. “We have a lot of candles to light, young man.”
As dusk started to fall, Devan walked back towards the house. His route had been lined with what must have been hundreds of tea lights and candles in glass jars of all shapes, sizes and colours. Each one danced in the gentle breeze; a beacon that heralded a new start, a new year for Devan, his family and all of those invited to the shindig in the barn. Even the gates onto Oakview shone and glimmered with fairy lights that were plugged into his RV. His next job was to get showered, shave and to suit up.
It took him ten minutes to walk, but the walk was worth it. “Oh,” he all but gasped as he took in the view of the house. All of the lights were on inside, the porch was filled with candles. His home appeared to glow with iridescence as the sunset. Stopping by his front door, he saw Aditi make her way down the stairs. In her hands was a stainless steel plate atop of which were clay divas. Full of mustard oil, each contained a cotton wick; having been lit, the flames flickered and fluttered seductively.
Aditi paused at the bottom step, the plate held between them. “Happy Diwali, gorgeous,” she whispered, revealing pearly white teeth.
Devan took one of the clay lamps, and held it carefully between his hands. He glanced at the flame, and then back at Aditi. “Happy Diwali, beautiful. Happy Diwali.”